Staff Newspaper of Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine
IC Reporter
  Issue 96, 3 July 2000
Sir Richard Sykes to be next Rector «
IC scientists create first transgenic malaria mosquito «
Beit Quad project update «
Your chance to toast the new Senior Common Room «
Top accolades reflect high standard of teaching «
The Queen's Birthday Honours List «
Wellcome Trust appoints new Governor «
Glaister joins new transport board «
Lords seek advice from management students «
Rector lambasts government for consistent underfunding «
Universities dismayed by threat of science cuts «
O&G topping out ceremony «
Reconstructing Rembrandt: the grim reaper exposed «
Review: Golden Jubilee for lunchtime concerts «
Regular Features
In Brief «
Media Mentions «
Noticeboard «

Rector lambasts government for consistent underfunding

Lord Oxburgh, rector, has described the system of higher education in the UK as having 'echoes of the command economy of the former Eastern bloc' with the government setting the number of students and the funding universities receive.

Speaking at the debate on higher education in the House of Lords last month, he said: "The government appears deaf to pleas that the universities are underfunded.

"If it does not believe the universities' case, it must state what it would accept as proof that the universities are bleeding to death and that the relentless cuts of the previous decades must be reversed."

The rector argued that the level of funding today seriously threatens the long-term viability of the system. "Although part of the reductions have been taken up by genuine improvements in efficiency, the most immediate effect has been the reduction in staff student ratios, which simply means that students receive less personal attention," he said.

International comparisons of university research show that research universities are among the international leaders and, for the funding they receive, give astonishing value, he added.

Such research leads to new products and new businesses - in the case of Imperial, at the rate of around one a month. However, success was precarious, partly because of the highly centralised and regulated way that higher education is managed in this country.

"Universities have achieved increases in productivity that would be the envy of many businesses. They have demonstrated that they are internationally competitive in every respect, and that they offer good value for money. They have generated new sources of income.

"However, they are poorly funded by comparison with their competitors, and they simply do not see how they can make ends meet now. They also carry an increasing burden of uncosted bureaucratic scrutiny. The relentless reductions of the past three decades must be reversed."

The full text of the speech can be found at:

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3 July 2000